The Stettler Imperials finished their 2022-23 regular season on a winning note at home.
Hosting the eighth-place Forestburg Flyers at the Stettler Recreation Centre (SRC) on Feb. 17, the fifth-place Imperials performed strongly in front of a near-capacity home crowd.
Forward Brett Muhlbach opened scoring, with his seventh of the season, for the Imperials just over six minutes into the period, at at the 13:41 mark. Quade Cassidy found the back of the net three minutes later, at the 10:39 mark, with his fourth of the season.
Forestburg forward Ben Roth, with his fourth of the season, answered back at the 7:39 mark in the first with a power play goal. It would be Forestburg’s lone goal for the evening.
Imperial forward JJ Fournier found the back of the net, his seventh goal of the season, with 1:29 left in the first period.
The Imperials took 10 minutes worth of penalties in the first period, allowing only one goal on four shorthanded opportunities. The Flyers picked up two minutes with a penalty to Cory Lohr with a call for roughing, which the Imperials were unable to capitalize on.
At the end of the first, the Imperials were up 3-1 with shots tied at 12.
Both teams entered the second period playing defensive hockey with no scoring taking place. The Imperials out shot the Flyers 13-4 in the second, but were unable to breach goalie Dawson Weatherill.
The Flyers picked up four minutes worth of penalties in the second period, with a call on Dallas Bergstrom for hooking at 18:33 and a call on Tyler Vaillancourt for tripping at 5:23. Imperial Kieran Rost picked up the lone team penalty in the second at 2:15 for hooking.
Imperial forward Erik Rost found the back of the net 10 seconds into third period, marking goal number 12 for the season. Devan Shanks, with his fifth of the season, finished off scoring with 21 seconds left of the period. Final shots in the period were 12-7 in favour of the Flyers.
The final score was 5-1 Imperials with shots 32-28 also in favour of the Imperials.
Penalties in the the third were all picked up by the Flyers with three separate calls against the team. Braydan Davis went off two minutes for hooking, Lohr went off again for roughing, and Bergstrom went off again, this time for Charging.
Each team accrued 12 minutes worth of penalties, with the Flyers capitalizing on one of five power play opportunities while the Imperials were unable to capitalize on any of the six opportunities.
With the regular season done, the Imperials head into a playoff run facing the fourth place Sedgewick Sabres, who have home ice advantage.
The three game series starts Feb. 24 at 8:30 p.m. in Sedgewick, before returning to Stettler on Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. If needed, the best-of-three series returns to Sedgewick on Feb. 26 with a 6:30 p.m. game.